aphorism


noun

  1. a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation, as “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton).

noun

  1. a short pithy saying expressing a general truth; maxim
n.

1520s (especially in reference to the “Aphorisms of Hippocrates”), from Middle French aphorisme (14c., aufforisme), from Late Latin aphorismus, from Greek aphorismos “definition, pithy sentence,” from aphorizein “to mark off, divide,” from apo- “from” (see apo-) + horizein “to bound” (see horizon).

An aphorism is a short, pithy statement containing a truth of general import; an axiom is a statement of self-evident truth; a theorem is a demonstrable proposition in science or mathematics; an epigram is like an aphorism, but lacking in general import. Maxim and saying can be used as synonyms for aphorism.

A concise and often witty statement of wisdom or opinion, such as “Children should be seen and not heard,” or “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

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